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Question
I'm not sure if this is the appropriate section for this question, but I couldn't find anything else related to friendships, so here it is:

I've known this guy for a year or so now.  He's a nice, friendly, courteous, easygoing guy and we share a lot of the same philosophies and goals in life.  He also gets along well with a lot of my good friends.

The problem is that little by little I've been noticing what a pessimistic, self-obsessed downer he is.  Any time the conversation goes serious he loves to center it on HIMSELF and how unbearable HIS life is.  Our most recent interaction made it quite clear that he sees himself as a helpless victim of circumstance, and that there are no solutions, only sympathy, to be gained by talking about it.

I saw traces of this earlier but had hopes for him.  He had started taking some action last year, but he seems to have given up already.

So my questions are: do I continue this friendship?  If so, to what capacity?  If not, how do I end it?

Thanks for your time.

Answer
Hi Brian
I have to be fair from the start here and tell you that I cant advise you on whether you should continue the friendship, only you can decide that.

What I will say is this...........we get different things from different friends. Or at least I know I do. I have some friends who pick me up and make me laugh, I also have one or two who tend to use me as a "shoulder to cry on" - but they also have redeeming qualities , in both cases they're kind, thoughtful and intelligent so I do benefit from the friendships.

You say he's friendly and easy going so he's probably a good guy to have around but as a friend you need to try and help rather than just "put up with him". Next time he plays the "hapless victim" card maybe you should challenge him. Not aggressively but rather along the lines of;
"Have you thought that maybe if you had done A) or B) then C) wouldn't have happened?".
Let him know that you're supportive but you also want to support by suggesting things to help rather than just accepting it as "bad luck".

If he is a decent guy and sees you as a proper friend he'll listen. He might not agree, he may even not like to hear it but if he's a friend he should at least listen.
If he doesn't listen or gets offended then maybe it is time to end it.

And if so , ending friendships , unless you're pretty cold hearted tends to be a gradual process. You don't take him aside some day and say " we are no longer friends, don't call me again", rather you reduce contact and find reasons to avoid meeting and slowly but surely the friendship will decline.

Anyway, good luck, whatever you choose.

Steve  

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Steve Wilson

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Any questions on families or relationships are welcome. As are any issues or problems that you have with communicating or simply being understood by those around you. I have voluntarily worked as a counselor in the past, both with individuals and families. I cant promise to have an answer to everything but will help as and where I can, without making judgements.

Experience

Both a former telephone counselor with a well known international support organisation and a former police officer within a major UK city. I've helped with numerous issues and worked with individuals and family towards conflict resolution.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Arts (Honours). I've received training in family and teenage counselling.

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